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NCJ Number: 157910 Find in a Library
Title: Discontinuous Change and the War on Drugs
Journal: Humanist  Volume:54  Issue:5  Dated:(September/October 1994)  Pages:14-17
Author(s): J Fish
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 4
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Although many people view the war on drugs as a failure, conventional wisdom is that any change will be slight and gradual.
Abstract: The reasoning behind conventional wisdom stresses the wide array of political, legal, medical, religious, educational, economic, and other forces allied against change. The argument for gradual change is based on the implicit assumption that there is only one kind of change and that is continuous change. The author argues, however, that the concept of discontinuous change provides a more likely model for the way in which qualitative drug policy reform will occur. Discontinuous change takes place in complex systems where multiple forces interact in complicated ways over time. Dynamic processes involved in complex systems challenge traditional views of gradual change and demonstrate the usefulness of discontinuous change models. A key element in understanding discontinuous change is the rapid and unpredictable nature of what occurs during the punctuation between old and new systems. Another key point associated with discontinuous change is the notion of threshold conditions beyond which homeostatic mechanisms are overcome and change results. It is clear that drug policy represents a complex system involving many people, institutions, and resources. Therefore, policy reform needs to be based on changes that can have a "snowball" effect. Such changes may be small and discontinuous but may have a more long-term beneficial effect than the current war on drugs.
Main Term(s): Drug Policy
Index Term(s): Change management; Drug regulation; Policy analysis
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